Top 10 Tips for Delivering a Theatrical Monologue

  1. Observe others to create a bank of vocal and physical mannerisms, choose those appropriate to your character and their situation.
  2. Read / watch the play.
  3. Understand the style you are performing in.
  4. Act appropriately to the era in which your piece is set.
  5. Create a distinct character.
  6. Use your voice, face and body to it’s full capacity without overacting.
  7. Avoid dairy and complete a vocal and physical warm up.
  8. Be confident.
  9. Don’t rush, carefully consider your pace and act through your pauses.
  10. Take a deep breath before you start (oxygen calms you down and aids concentration).

1 – Observe others.

This creates your own bank of vocal and physical mannerisms from which you can then select those most appropriate to your character and their situation. It also allows you to see how different individuals interact physically and vocally with others.

2 – Read / watch the play.

This enables you to understand your character, their relationship with others and their role within the context of the play.

3 – Understand the style you are performing in.

Research the style of your piece. There are so many genres and styles of theatre so be sure to find out more about your chosen style. Examples include: comedy or tragedy, realism, naturalism, physical theatre, political theatre, theatre in education, verbatim theatre…etc

4 – Act appropriately to the era in which your piece is set.

Research when your play was written and set, find out what was going on at the time and how people conducted themselves in order to act appropriately to the given period in time. Make a conscious decision as to whether or not you are setting it in the time it intended not. For example you may intend to modernise a piece of Shakespeare (in which case ensure you give it a specific timeframe e.g. the 1960s

5 – Create a distinct character.

Find elements of your character that are both similar and different from yourself, embrace the similarities, and begin to develop the differences by altering your face, body and voice. 

6 – Use your voice, face and body to its full capacity without overacting.

Every detail is important here; break down your facial expression, use eyes, eyebrows, mouth and jaw to create the expression you are after. Study yourself in the mirror or on camera until you are content with the expression(s) you have created. Use your posture, gesture, stance and gait to create your character’s physicality. Vary your tone, pitch, pace, pauses, projection, and perhaps even accent to create your role vocally.

7 – Avoid dairy, drink water and complete a vocal and physical warm up.

Dairy products clog up your voice, so it’s best to avoid these on the day(s) of the performance. Water helps you stay hydrated and therefore focussed, it helps keep a clear throat too. Conduct a physical warm up to open up the chest and relax the muscles. Then complete a vocal warm up to gently stretch the vocal chords, awaken the mouth and tongue and relax the jaw. This can include both stretches, scales, diaphragmatic breathing and tongue twisters. This will enable clearer diction and more control. 

8 – Be confident.

Even if you don’t feel it, go for it! Smile if/when you have to introduce your piece as this makes you look and feel more confident. 

9 – Don’t rush.

Carefully consider your pace and act through your pauses.

Embrace your pre-planed pauses, but insure you stay in character during them. Don’t rush; nerves quicken your pace so tell yourself to perform a little slower. 

10 – Take a deep breath.

Before you start your piece, take at least one deep diaphragmatic inhale (through the nose) and exhale (out of the mouth) because oxygen calms you down and aids concentration allowing you to perform at your best.